Addiction To Online GamblingIn Young People
A BREWING PROBLEM IN THE COMMUNITY
Gambling has been known to be a popular pastime among adults. It comes in many different forms. Whether it is purchasing that lotto ticket, betting on an online game, or going to the casino, gambling is addictive no matter how simply the fondness for it has began.
Sadly, many are engaged in gambling that they do not realize. Some use it as an excuse to take their mind off the stress until it becomes the source of stress altogether.
Unsurprisingly, the advent of technology has brought with it a different form of gambling that targeted a different range of audience. Internet gambling became a popular pastime among teens.
It has become so popular that in 2011, a news agency found online gaming as the fastest form of industry growing in the online category. They recorded about 10 million users in the UK alone.
The global network of online gaming has reached an estimate value of $30 billion. Online poker alone is at $6 billion annually.
In the US, the Department of Justice may be behind the addiction of a lot of people, after reversing their decision that online betting and playing of poker is illegal. Sadly, this loosening of rules to online gambling may only lead to a much bigger problem than what is seen.
Children with access to the online games will not be free to bet real money through their computers. This may only be the beginning.
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WHY TARGET the youth?
Internet gambling begins like how every game children play do. It begins by encouraging the young mind to make a bet and the rest will be history.
Though the restrictions for gambling sites are up, teenagers and young adult users still seem to get in. In fact, studies show that a whopping 20% of most college students play poker.
While you are at home thinking that your child is spending his sweet time studying his books and preparing for class, you’d be shocked to find out that he has placed his bet in an online game using the credit card he borrowed from you.
It is only when the bills come that you realize that something is up. The sad truth is that the problem is much worse that you thought it was, not to mention that it has become more expensive.
A survey conducted by a Non-Government Organization showed a list of the websites that most college students use. Sixteen percent of these sites are gambling websites and the frequency of their use is growing every year.
The dramatic increase in the use of these online gambling sites only shows one truth -- the payment restrictions have become more accessible. Does your child in college ask for more money on a weekly basis?
If he does, then this might be one of the reasons why. It may not be what you hoped he was using the extra money for, but it may be his way of telling you that he needs help. He needs it now.
Online gaming may not be targeting the youth as it seems, but its accessibility makes it easier for the young mind to grasp. Who can say no when the online ad says “It’s gonna get you a lot of money!”
It is tempting to a young mind who thinks it’s a good way to earn money. But how do we get our children the help that they need?
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why do the youth gamble?
What do you think of people who go to the casino to play? Casino is one of the legal forms of gambling and yet society thinks low of it.
Here’s a video of someone who got addicted to gambling and lost everything he had. Now, he is speaking as a recovering addict who knows exactly what he wants.
In fact, many people suffer from discrimination just at the thought of wanting to go to the casino to play. It is not and will never be socially acceptable.
It is fairly easy to say that this legal form of gambling still makes people lose their money, but it also gives them a sense of fulfillment of some sort. Only they could truly say what gambling does to them. Legal forms of gambling is highly visible and it is even promoted and yet it is something that society frowns upon. So, why are we surprised to find out that our children are trying online gambling secretly?
And yet the games changed when poker became a widely played card game. Suddenly, everyone wanted to play it. Poker tournaments became huge and they come with experts commentary.
From million dollar prizes to becoming the “ticket” to fame, people desired to be part of every poker game. They felt it would make them famous, at least in their own right.
Given the glamour, prevalence and accessibility, online poker games have encouraged the youth to take part. After all, they are at a time in their lives when any form of recognition is welcomed.
Poker provided them with the thrill, instant gratification, and hope that they could earn easy money. So, what is it that made our kids addicted to such games?
- Excitement. These games bring with them a kind of excitement that get teens addicted.
- Enjoyment. Teens are at a time in their lives when they are looking for new ways to enjoy their free time. Online gambling is like a transition for them from games when they were children to adultlike games now that they are much older.
- Money. As parents we think that our kids don’t need the extra money, but they think they do. So when there’s a promise of real money from these games, they take every chance they could.
There are other reasons why adolescents choose to gamble. It includes peer pressure, relieve feelings of depression, or simply relieve boredom. This is evident in college students who play poker in their dorm rooms and in local bars nearby.
Studies show that more than 16 million people in the UK are addicted to gambling and about half of that are teenagers. At a time when they are struggling for their identity, gambling appeals both for the excitement value that it brings and the boost of confidence for a new identity for a teenager.
what happens when they gamble?
Gambling is not all fun and excitement. In fact, it can make a dramatic turn even before the teen is ready for it.
When they begin to lose in the games, it is translated into loses of real money. This could trigger a complete drop in their self-esteem.
Then, it brings about feelings of anxiety and depression. Some may begin to take some of our priced possessions in order to pay off debt.
Some of them may begin to sell their things in order to continue gambling. The feeling of wanting to get back what they lost overpowers them. They begin to be hopeful that they could win big again.
Will their gambling ever stop? Studies show that when a person begins to gamble at a young age, it becomes harder for them to kick the habit.
They are at a higher risk of addiction. When they do get addicted, they see every opportunity as something that offers them a 50% chance of winning it big.
Parents who gamble or show any signs of approval for gambling among kids are often the key factor to why these young minds get addicted. A teen with a gambling problem will become an adult with gambling addiction issues.
Sadly, the rate of teens that succumb to a gambling addiction or two to four times higher than that of adults. The anonymity of online transactions is also a huge factor why a lot of teens gamble online.
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how do you know it's addiction?
Do you suspect that your child is addicted to online gambling? Recognizing the problem as early as now can help you provide your child with the help he needs.
What are the warning signs that the addiction problem has gotten much worse? Here are the signs:
- Do they miss school and other family activities because they are hooked in their computer playing some sort of game?
- Do they often ask for money but is not upfront about what they are going to use it for?
- Do they lie about their whereabouts?
- When confronted about their gambling addiction, do they dismiss the idea as something stupid or crazy?
- Do they laugh at the thought of you expressing your desire to help them overcome their gambling addiction?
- Do you notice some valuable missing?
Denial is always the first indicator that someone needs help. The more that they deny it, the more that they need it.
When talks about gambling addiction reach the dinner table and your child decides to keep quiet about it, that should be an indicator that the problem has gotten worse.
will my child ever recover?
Intervention is always the key. When you’ve got the right skills and knowledge about what your child is going through, it is easier to provide them with help.
Recovery from any type of addiction has always been challenging. Nobody said it was going to be easy, but a lot have tried to overcome it.
More importantly, discussing the risks of addiction to your children will allow them to learn directly from you. Keep the judgements and extend help.
More than anything or anyone, our children need us the most to overcome their addiction.
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Problem Gambling Statistics
In this article, we talk about how gambling is a problem for children and adolescents in the UK. The Gambling Commission licenses and regulates people and businesses that provide gambling in the UK. Statistics from the Gambling Commission website show that kids aged 11 to 15 gamble as often as now as they have gambled in the previous years, but now there is a new addition to the repertoire: on-line gambling available 24/7 and disguised as mobile games.
With the rising trend of this new style of gaming, the thin line between gambling and gaming is blurred. There is also a pressing need to investigate whether playing on-line mobile games at a young age sets up children to become gambling addicts.
With the liberalisation of gambling laws in 2005, advertising 75% of 11 to 15 year-old kids have seen gambling advertisements on TV, 63% have encountered them on social media, and 57% have viewed them from other websites. Samantha Thomas a health academic from Deakin University has warned that frequent exposure to gambling advertisements makes gambling a normal, acceptable thing that all kids can do. And this has a potentially disastrous aftereffect of childhood and adolescent mental health.
Why do kids gamble?
When asked why they like to gamble, some kids say,
“I want to make money.”
“I thought it will be fun.”
“I wanted to see what it was like.”
“My father/mother/brother/sister/other family member(s) do it.”
“There was a free game on-line.”
We can see from these responses that these are natural incidents—curiosity, boredom, and copying adult behaviour are normal kid behaviours.
In this instance, the kids chose gamble. But…
what is so bad about gambling?
In May 2019, the British Medical Journal called for the creation of public policies to protect people against gambling-related harm. Clearly, gambling is not good for public health, but why so?
Gambling harm is described as a range of unfavourable consequences to the wellbeing of people who gamble, including their family members or friends. This harm can be experienced whether the person gambling is a problem gambler or just a person who gambles “normally”.
Gambling harm causes emotional, psychological and financial hardship. Kids, specifically teenagers, are at a developmental stage where their brains are not mature enough to make sound judgments. They are not good at thinking about long-term consequences. A lot of times, what they think and do are irrational. As gambling is already potentially harmful for adults who are already cognitively mature, the impact is worse on kids who cannot yet handle the stress.
prime to gamble.
Before the popularity if on-line gambling, kids in UK gamble mostly by:
Play fruit machines
Betting with friends about random things
Playing cards for money
Participating in the National Lottery
Buying scratch cards
Now that there is internet access almost anywhere, available almost all the time, on-line gaming and gambling is becoming a widespread problem for parents and teachers. Experts have been keen to describe a phenomena called “convergence”, where gaming crosses over to gambling in such ways as:
- Fantasy sports and daily fantasy sports – kids make a team and the team play a sport leading to eSports gambling
- Monetised video gaming – kids play a video game where they can buy items through in-game purchasing
- Monetised simulated gambling – kids play a gambling game which uses a virtual currency (examples: Slotomania and blackjack )
It is getting harder to tell apart the difference between gaming and gambling. Adding to the items above, the following have been causing parents in UK to rally for changes in the law.
- ‘Loot boxes’ which are in-game purchasing systems. Loot boxes are items that kids buy online. Loot boxes are bought “boxed”, the hidden content only revealed after purchase, when they are “unboxed”. There is a guaranteed that there a treat inside, but the thrill is in knowing what is inside the loot box. Examples of these games are Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), FIFA Ultimate Team, Overwatch, Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Dota 2
- Skins betting – Skins are a type of customisation for a character (called an avatar) kids create on on-line games. These skins can be bought with cash and traded with other players. In some sophisticated on-line in public pot games of chance that mimic casinos games (including coin flips and roulette), they are used as currency. In addition, players can bet their skins to win more skins. They can also use skins to bet on teams that are competing with each other in a winner-takes all style of betting.
- Video games that simulate gambling without money being directly involved. Examples of these are Candy Crush and Runescape “wheel of fortune” games, free online poker, free online slots, and casino games on Facebook
According to concerned parents and experts alike, loot boxes, skins betting and simulated gambling normalises gambling. When gambling is seen as a normal activity, people who are prone to addiction are worse hit. It is like encouraging a bad habit by making it something socially acceptable and normal. We would not think twice about smoking as a normal, healthy behaviour, and neither should we take the same approach with gambling.
In 2018, Belgium banned loot boxes because of the gambling harm it causes kids. But in the UK, loot boxes and skins are not yet considered part of gambling, but just innocently, gaming. Officially, loot boxes and skins have no monetary value, but because there are websites that thrive in selling and trading on-line items using real money, there are many negative incidents reported by parents.
What usually happens is:
- Kids play a game on-line and they look for a special item
- They buy the item (micropurchase it) using their parents’ money through credit card
- Or they go to unauthorised third party sites which deals in buy and sell of on-line items
- Pay the unauthorised site to get the virtual items
- But in both cases, there is a demand for better, improved, and more of the items to be purchased.
As a result, parents end up paying hundreds and even thousands of pounds for virtual goods they did not purchase or wish their children to purchase.
In the past two years, the number of kids who have gambling problems in the UK has increased to 50,000. This is a fourfold increase from the 2017. Not only is this an alarming number, we also have to think that these reported incidents are about problem underage gamblers. What about the kids whose gambling habits are still considered “normal”?
online gambling vs offline gambling.
In 2016, the UK ranked tenth in terms of countries that spend the most money on gambling world-wide. It is estimated that every person in the UK spends £200 per year on gambling activities like sports betting. Most people enjoy betting on results of horse racing, boxing and tennis (sports betting), playing casino games, playing lotto and bingo games, going to arcade shops, and using gaming machines.
In March 2018, on-line gaming is reported to take majority of the market share with an estimated £14.4 Billion in revenue.
Majority of the people who gamble on-line are aged 16 to 20 years old.
They say that they prefer to gamble online because:
“It’s available all the time.”
“It’s easy to access. I can gamble anywhere and everywhere as long as there is WIFI.”
“It is cheaper and I get to practice before I actually spend money.”
“There are free games.”
“I don’t have to talk to anybody.”
“No one will bother me.”
“I don’t notice the cost.”
The figures are alarming because on-line gamblers tend to play more hands and commit more errors than off-line gamblers. On-line games for adults can also be easily accessed by kids because security measures are quite easy to bypass.
prevent kids from gambling.
In the UK, gambling can be considered a national past-time. For the majority of us, there seems to be nothing wrong with gambling. But recent trends in technology are bringing out the adverse effects of gambling to the surface.
We can say that it is easier to deal with kids who gamble off-line than kids who gamble on-line. With easy access to the internet, downloadable apps -that mimic gambling but are called games, on-line gambling can be done in secret. Sometimes, the only way we find out about gambling harm is the instance when we are called to the school because our kids are in trouble. Or the instance when we get a huge bill for unauthorized (kid-caused) on-line game-related purchases.
Kids being kids, they will inevitably ask for our help. So what do we do as parents? Mental health experts offer the following tips:
- Do not gamble in front of the kids – whether you like it or not, they copy your behaviour and actions speak louder than words
- Do not bring kids to gambling facilities – there are better places to spend family time
- Believe that gambling is not good for you, but you can still do it in moderation
- Talk honestly about consequences of a gambling
And lastly, if you have a gambling problem or you suspect you do, seek professional help. Addiction is a learned behaviour and is something that can be changed. If your kid is picking up your bad habits, then it is time to see the bigger picture.